The Meaning of Life

Original Release Date:
May 22, 2001

Written by:
Jim Hamilton

"Place Your Vote!" Result:
Do the ratings of "Sports Night" go up or down?

Estimated Runtime:



The Sports Night production team is inside of the control room during the broadcast.

Chris: Pre-set 50.

Will: Stand-by 50a.

Dave: Go to Huey.

Dana: Let's wrap this one up, everybody.

Dana glances to her right, and surprisingly notices Isaac standing next to her.

Dana: Isaac? What are you doing here? You've been here since-

Isaac: Since nine this morning. Dana, when you get a chance after the show, please come see me in my office.

Dana: Sure. What is it about?

Isaac: When you get a chance, Dana.

Isaac leaves the control room.

Natalie leans over to Dana.

Natalie: (whispering) So this is what you've been worried about? Is this where you are going to get busted?

Dana: Shush, Natalie. Nobody is getting busted. Let's focus on the show.

Casey and Dan are broadcasting from the anchor desk.

Casey: (on-air) Here's an update on Michael Robinson's condition. His injury has been diagnosed as muscle atrophy. The defensive tackle's inability to participate in the Chiefs' mini-camp may be due in part because he did not work out during the offseason and he constantly ate from the buffet table at Piccadilly. Checking the scales, Robinson has ballooned to 360 pounds.

Casey puffs out his cheeks.

Casey: (on-air) Dan.

Dan: (on-air) Hey, Casey. Piccadilly has some pretty good fixins if I may say so myself.

Casey: (on-air) Yes, you may.

Dan: (on-air) Now, we go to our 'Highlight of the Night.' We take you to Philadelphia between the Sixers and Bucks in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Like a marauder, Allen Iverson swipes the ball from Milwaukee and goes coast-to-coast. He makes the circus-style shot and is fouled; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you can get a three-point play and make our 'Highlight of the Night.'

That will do it for this edition of Sports Night. Join us again tomorrow night as we give you scores, stats, and stories as only we can. That man over there is Casey McCall; I'm Dan Rydell. Good night.

Chris: Cue music.

Will: The credits are rolling.

Dave: We're out.

Dana takes off her headset.

Dana: Good show, everybody.

Natalie: You going to see Isaac?

Dana: In a minute, Natalie. Isaac told me to come when I have a chance.

Natalie: All righty.

Dana: Don't you have someone or something you need to be attending to?

Natalie: Yes.

Dana: Well?

Natalie: I want you to stop worrying.

Dana: I'll be all right.

Natalie: You're not going to run into any more doors, are you?

Dana: No, I'm not.

Natalie: Because there is a door right there. (points to control room door) And there is another one going into Isaac's office.

Dana: Natalie.

Natalie: I'll catch you later. Don't worry. It will be fine.

Natalie smiles as she leaves the control room. Dana walks from the control room and onto the studio set. She looks around for someone. She spots Dan and Casey walking out of the studio and toward the newsroom.

Dan: So, you know what I was thinking? I was thinking a little candlelight, a little music, some delicious food-

Casey: My favorite kind.

Dan: -and for desert-

Casey: Some cremé brûlee?

Dana: Hey guys?

Dana catches up to the two.

Dan: Yeah. That will be good. Thanks.

Dana: Guys?

Casey: Yeah, Dana?

Dana: I need to speak with Casey.

Casey: Dan is giving me details on the art of wooing.

Dana: Dan is wooing you?

Casey: Dan is wooing JoAnne.

Dan: Dana, you need to talk about the show?

Dan smiles and winks.

Dana: Dan, this is serious. If you ever make a joke like that again, I will rip out your lips and wear them as a headband. Got it?

Dan: Yes, ma'am.

Dan gives a bow and gracefully exits the area.

Casey: Aren't you being harsh-

Dana: It's going down.

Casey: What?

Dana: Isaac earlier today told me he wanted to see me before I leave today. Then, right as the show was ending, he told me to meet him in his office. I think he is going to call me on-

Dana looks around and begins to whisper.

Dana: (whispering) -our relationship.

Casey: Okay.

The two stand quietly for a second.

Dana: Aren't you going to say anything else?

Casey: Good luck?

Dana: (whispering) This is my job we're talking about here.

Casey: At this point, if it happens, it happens. I believe Isaac won't slap your knuckles too hard under the circumstances.

Dana: What circumstances?

Casey: He's been working sixty to seventy hours a week for the past month. I think he will be willing to sweep this minor infraction under the rug based on its lack of priority among his responsibilities.

Dana: I don't know, Casey.

Casey: I know you are nervous and worried.

Dana touches the bandage on her cheek and smirks.

Dana: Yeah.

Casey: You need to see what Isaac has to say, first.

Dana shakes her head, still unconvinced.

Casey: I'll see you later?

Dana: Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow.

Casey: Call me if anything big occurs.

Dana: I will.

Casey rubs Dana's arm and heads toward his office.

Dana takes a deep breath and straightens out her outfit. Her first few steps are long and bold- her confidence is high. She sees Casey walk into his office, and she notices Dan acting like a little kid excited about something. She then spots a computer monitor with a piece of paper taped to it. The paper reads, "Monitor broken." She observes Sam talking on a telephone in the middle of the newsroom. Dana's steps becomes smaller. Dana looks the other direction and she sees Sally speaking with one of her staffers. Dana starts to lose confidence as she walks closer to Isaac's office.

As she goes down the corridor, Dana seems timid. Once she reaches Isaac's door, Dana takes a deep breath and once again straightens out her outfit. She knocks on his door. She opens it slowly and takes a step inside.

Isaac: Come in.

Dana: I'm finally here, Isaac.

Isaac: Good. Have a seat.

Dana takes a few steps, then stops.

Dana: You want the door closed?

Isaac: Yes, please.

Dana looks worried as she closes the door. She carefully walks over and sits in front of Isaac's desk.

Dana: So, what is this all about?

Isaac: There's a few things I would like to address.

Dana: Okay.

Isaac: First, how are you?

Dana: Doing well.

Isaac: How's the bump?

Dana: It's still there.

Isaac: Do you need to see a doctor about it? You've had that bandage on for almost a week.

Dana: I'll be fine. It just needs time to heal.

Isaac: Okay. Second, I am meeting with Donna and James tomorrow morning.

Dana: About Marcus?

Isaac: Yes.

Dana: You know he has to seek treatment.

Isaac: I know that. His arraignment is tomorrow, and he hasn't done anything to get back in the good graces of the network.

Dana: Are they going to fire him?

Isaac: It depends on how he pleads, but I think it is only a matter of time before they let him go.

Dana: All right. I'll work on a preliminary rotation just in case he is let go.

Isaac: Good.

Dana: That's it?

Isaac: No, there's one more thing.

Isaac gets up from his desk and walks over to his bar.

Isaac: Would you like a drink?

Dana: It's after hours. Sure.

Isaac pours a drink for himself and one for Dana. He hands Dana her drink, and Isaac sits on the corner of his desk.

Isaac: Dana, there is speculation that you are dating Casey.

Dana: There is?

Isaac: Are you?

Dana downs half of her drink. She then lowers her head in shame.

Dana: Yes, Isaac.

Isaac stands up.

Isaac: Why didn't you tell me?

Dana: I was afraid of losing my job because of the ban on dating.

Isaac: Are you happy?

Dana: I'm embarrassed.

Isaac: No. Are you happy with Casey?

Dana: I don't know. It's like we haven't had much of a chance to develop our relationship.

Isaac laughs.

Dana: What's so funny?

Isaac: I can imagine the pressure of running the show and hiding your relationship with Casey.

Dana: Yeah. How did Sam find out?

Isaac: He had a few clues, but he couldn't find substantial evidence. I found something which alluded to you and Casey.

Dana: What was it?

Isaac reaches on his desk, grabs a booklet, and hands it to Dana.

Isaac: Here is your original contract.

Dana: I know Isaac.

Isaac: Turn to page four.

Dana flips it to the page.

Dana: I know, Isaac. The clause about inter-office relationships.

Isaac: Just look at the clause.

Dana looks at the page, and her head jerks back in surprise.

Dana: My initials are not there.

Isaac: Correct. You initialed the rest of the clauses, but you didn't on that one. I found it when Donna and I were going over the contracts. It was something J.J. overlooked when you signed this contract.

Dana: Does this mean everything is fine? Am I off the hook?

Isaac: No. It just means you don't understand the policy.

Dana: Isaac, I'm tired. I don't think I need a lecture-

Isaac: Dana are you happy with your life?

Dana looks at Isaac and thinks about it for a second.

Dana: I love my job. I love Sports Night.

Isaac: I'm not talking about just your job. I'm talking about your life- including what is going on outside of work.

Dana: You mean Casey?

Isaac: Talk to me about Casey.

Dana: Isaac.

Isaac: Dana? Talk to me about Casey.

Dana taps her fingers on the arm chair.

Dana: Casey is like... something you are familiar with, yet different.

Isaac: What makes it different?

Dana: I feel like... I feel like I won't be judged- that there is an understanding, a common bond between us. Casey's there for me. He listens to my problems. In fact, he told me not to worry about our meeting because he felt if you found out about me and Casey, you would not punish me because of all your recent workload.

Isaac laughs.

Dana: But what I truly feel is that... somebody cares for and loves me. That's what I feel about Casey.

Isaac: You know what Dana?

Dana: Yes, Isaac?

Isaac: Rip out that page.

Dana: Huh?

Isaac: The page that has the inter-office relationship clause on it. Rip it out.

Dana: But Isaac-

Isaac: Do it.

Unsure of herself, Dana carefully rips out the page from her contract. Isaac holds out his hand and Dana gives him the sheet. Isaac balls up the paper and throws it into the trash.

Dana: That is part of my contract.

Isaac: Was.

Dana: O-kay.

Isaac: But I do have to punish you because you did break the rules of your contract- your contract before it was just amended.

Dana: All right, Isaac. Bring it on.

Isaac: For one week- starting next week- Natalie is running the show and you are the senior associate producer.

Dana: You're going to have Natalie run the show? That's it?

Isaac: Yes, I'm sure that's a just punishment for you. I think you will learn your lesson.

Dana: Okay. Natalie's running the show next week.

Isaac: That's all.

Dana hands Isaac her contract, gets up, and looks bewildered. Isaac sets the contract down on his desk and takes his seat.

Dana: Why, Isaac?

Isaac: Why I'm doing this?

Dana: Yes.

Isaac: If you were incapable of doing your job and being a professional- being the executive producer of Sports Night- you would be fired. It doesn't matter if it was for incompetence, insubordination, excessive tardiness, or not being able to keep personal matters at home. If you cannot do your job, you shouldn't be in that position. I'm not going to force you to be somebody you are not, and the new executives are backing me on it.

Dana: Whoa. Thank you, Isaac. But what about Sam?

Isaac: I'll take care of Sam. As far as I'm concerned, you've been punished, and a resolution has been achieved.

Dana: I don't have to worry about this anymore?

Isaac: I didn't like the rule from the beginning, but I went along because that is what J.J., Billy, and Ray wanted. The new executives are indifferent to the clause, and they've been very receptive to my opinions. (pause) Sometimes creativity can be hampered if there is an over-abundance of rules and guidelines. It gets to a point where people are afraid to interact with each other, and one of the keys to running a good sports network is communication. It's what we do with our viewers, so we must not be hypocritical and not communicate with each other.

Dana smiles.

Dana: I could hug you.

Isaac smiles, and Dana leans over and gives Isaac a big hug. Isaac pats Dana on the back.

Dana: Thank you.

Isaac: You're welcome, Dana. You're welcome.

Click here to continue with Sports Night...